Giorgio Mustica of The Aquarian Weekly recently conducted an interview with vocalist James LaBrie of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
The Aquarian Weekly: Looking at the new DREAM THEATER album, what are your thoughts on how it stacks up with the others?
LaBrie: I think it stacks up phenomenally. The reason for that is the fact that when you hear this album, you're going to hear that there are a lot of the core influences with DREAM THEATER, but at the same time, just making it very relevant as to what's going on with DREAM THEATER today — some of the things that we feel keep us in the now with the musical context. The three focal points for me on this album are that we finally wrote a song, the opening track, "False Awakening Suite", which is very cinematic and movie soundtrack-like, then you go to the middle of the album and you have this big, epic kind of instrumental song, "The Enigma Machine", and shortly there followed with "The Bigger Picture". So these songs really kind of create that excitement. I mean, to me, one of the things that I looked forward to when I was getting RUSH or listening to any band like that — YES or anything — was when I found out that there was going to be an instrumental track on the album. So I think that's always been a big part of who and what DREAM THEATER is and endears us to our listeners; it just adds much more dimension to the band. And then the end track, "The Illumination Theory", is this big, epic 20-minute-plus, but what it does is it just incorporates all these things that really make DREAM THEATER who they are; it really identifies strongly with the kind of band we are. It's aggressive, it's very symphonic at times, it's very atmospheric at times. This is the first time where in the middle of an instrumental, we didn't all of a sudden go into this big, interactive display of musical and instrumental prowess. What happened was the whole thing just kind of disappears — the whole band disappears — and all of a sudden Jordan [Rudess, keyboards] comes in with this big, atmospheric approach, followed by a very symphonic string section, very melodically driven, and then going into something that feels like a meteorite hit the planet, you know, if you go into the section called "The Pursuit Of Truth", where I'm like, screaming my head off and everything like that. I mean, it's a very exciting ride and it's a classic, epic piece for DREAM THEATER. So this album, just with those three key points that I pointed out, really make it something that I think is very, very suggestive that the band is feeling that we've arrived at a new place and we're walking through a door that kind of creates the next chapter for us, so to speak. And that's not to take away from the other songs; I think the other songs are very powerful within themselves, so that's where I'm coming from. Yeah, it's a great album.
The Aquarian Weekly: There hasn't been an instrumental track on a full-length since 2003's "Train Of Thought", and there's not one but two instrumentals on this CD. You were trying to make this more theatric, right?
LaBrie: Yeah, I mean, before going into the album, we knew that it was going to be a self-titled album just because we felt that we just walked over a bridge, so to speak. With "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", that album was more or less about us letting everyone know that we are still the same band and we're going to continue to write music and not lose our identity, but the music is going to be where it's at, that we haven't lost a thing; if anything, we feel better about ourselves. So that album was more or less about proving it to our fans and to the journalists around the world that we still are who we are and in fact, we feel even that much more confidant. So with that being done, this album was more or less about us just remembering and saying, "You know what, we've done that, we've proven that, let's just get back into having a great time together and writing an amazing album and that we can say this is the beginning of something new for us." This is a whole new chapter in DREAM THEATER's career that we feel this album will be the kick-start to that. So yeah, going in we just knew this was the album we needed to write, and I think we achieved it.